It is no secret that the UK is facing a significant shortage in science, technology, engineering and mathematical (STEM) skills. Recent studies from APSCo and the Royal Academy of Engineering reveal that the 90,000 undergraduates currently studying these subjects represent 10,000 fewer than the economy needs.

The business and technology recruiter ReThink Recruitment has proposed five strategies to address the shortage. Its director, Michael Bennett, enumerates them as follows:

– Introduce multiple strategies for skilling up the workforce instead of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach; some IT firms may find digital skills apprenticeships will address the gap for them, while others may need a different approach.

– Firms should build long-term talent pipelines, including social recruitment strategies, to engage STEM undergraduates early in their studies and attract them as they qualify.

– Despite the political vying over immigration, firms need to look beyond the UK for talent as well as onshore. Mr Bennett says: “We live in a world with a globally mobile workforce, so why not use it?”.

– Attract school students to STEM subjects early, before they have made their examination choices. Bring in appealing role models, such as women who have made successful careers in STEM, promoting successful digital entrepreneurs, and “get more of Professor Brian Cox on the TV.”

– Increase employee brand reputation to retain staff loyalty by training talent and developing career progression opportunities.

In the immediate term, Umbrella Company Employees and other professional freelancers contracting in the STEM sector are experiencing increased demand; however, long-term solutions are clearly required.

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